Heimtextil still strong forum

U.S. producers happy with order flow at show

Carole Sloan, January 19, 2004

Despite attendance that exhibitors reported as definitely down, U.S. fabric producers at Heimtextil last week were pleased with results.

Whether they were mainstream fabric producers, decorators, cut order suppliers or the few mills at the fair, order writing was strong as well as the typical sample requests.

An interesting twist was the report from several American exhibitors at the high end of increasing business in China.

The only negative appeared to be the reaction of exhibitors at the U.S. Pavilion for fabrics in Hall 4.1.

"Our order intake was good to very good," said Duncan Whitehead, executive vice president of Quaker. "European business was better than normal; the Middle East very good and our Bombay office is starting to pay off."

Jack Cobb, president of American Decorative Fabrics, said, "It was OK, and we saw people we haven't seen before — steady and much busier than last year." In addition to more Middle Eastern customers, Cobb also noted a number of American customers in the stand.

For Lee Silberman, senior vice president, Duralee, "This year was almost as good as our last year's show which was the best in years." Interestingly, Silberman noted, "Our expensive products were very well received."

At Fabricut, this year "was the best I can remember for our company, and I've been coming for 23 years," said Harvey Nudelman, president.

"We have brand meaning now and more countries have bought into our distribution and book programs — Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Dubai, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia," Nudelman added.

Arnie Masarsky, director of export for Kravet, said, "It was 10 times better than I expected." On the firm's piece-goods side, traffic was down 20 to 25 percent, "but I got my share of business from furniture manufacturers, stocking retailers and jobbers.

At Roc-Lon, "We wish we saw new people but we didn't," said Stan Fradin, president.

Key areas were Europe, Middle East, South Africa, Pacific Rim, Poland and Ukraine, Fradin said.

But he noted, "While I can say with certainty that we will be back next year, I'm not sure we will be in the U.S. Pavilion. The magnetism of the Pavilion as a draw for all customers — new and old — has disappeared."

Fradin also said the Department of Commerce's rule requiring that Pavilion exhibitors' products be at least 51 percent U.S. made is unrealistic in today's world.

For Harry Blumenthal, president of Blumenthal "It's been very good. We're meeting new people as sources as well as new and old customers."

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